Tall, dark and interesting

There’s a really cool guy who comes to clean our offices in the evenings. He listens to music through earphones as he works, and, quite frankly, he fascinates me. He looks so trendy and interesting, and the other day I found myself wondering what his story was. And that reminded me …

A few years ago, back in Cape Town, I went to night school to study. I had two young sons, I worked full-time and I studied part-time with a bunch of mainly youngsters who had just completed their undergraduate studies, and had continued straight on to this course. Most of them still lived at home, most had nothing else to do except the course. I thought about that as I juggled supper, washing, helping my sons with their homework and trying to study for a test the following evening.

I also thought about that the one evening when our lecturer told us to “cast your minds back to 1978”. I got totally in the zone … where I was, what music I listened to, who my friends were, the level of insecure that I felt as an awkward teenager in her second last year of high school … when I was shaken out of my reverie by a fellow student who said, “Bob! Most of us were only born in 1978!” Was I ever glad I didn’t open my mouth?

One evening, our first lecture in research methodology was about to begin. Students had gathered and seated themselves and were chattering noisily throughout the lecture theatre. The lecturer arrived and put his books on the podium, and we all settled down in silent anticipation of the riveting lecture ahead. He greeted us, welcomed us and began to introduce his topic for the evening.

The doors – which were near the front of the lecture theatre – opened dramatically. A tall, gorgeous, James Dean-esque vision in denim stood in the doorway. Perfectly coiffed and beautifully sculpted, he surveyed the theatre to see where he was going to sit for the evening. A million of us wished we could raise our hands and invite him to sit next to us, but we all just stared, open-mouthed, fascinated and speechless.

He took a pew and we all – males and females alike – repositioned our jaws and turned our gazes, reluctantly, back to the lecturer.

A few weeks into the course, we were invited to form ourselves into groups – where we were sitting – to discuss a possible research topic. We were encouraged to think about topics relevant to our work, if we worked.

A delightful and infectiously smiley fellow student sat in front of me. He knew everything and everyone. And what he didn’t know he would find out. Lecturers loved him, he made everyone laugh and he became everyone’s best friend. He joined with the students on either side of him to form a group with the four students sitting in the row in front of them. The Eastern European James Dean was sitting in the row in front, and joined that group.

We began to discuss the topic in our group, as did others all around the lecture theatre. My smiley friend in front of me suddenly sat up tall and swivelled his head around at me, like an owl. He stared at me, wide-eyed and open-mouthed like he was yawning, but he was sharply inhaling, not yawning the air out. Then he wrinkled his nose into a full concertina and, when he could breathe properly again, he whisper-shouted to me, “DO YOU KNOW WHAT HE DOES FOR A LIVING?”

I kind of wrinkled my nose too. I had to; the situation called for it. Then I whisper-shouted back at him, “NO. WHAT?”


At this stage, the smiley guy was swivelling his head backwards and forwards, not wanting to miss out on any conversation in his group and wanting to report it as quickly as he could to me and my group.

From that moment onwards, we all took a renewed interest in that tall, handsome Eastern European guy in our research methodology course. We wanted to ask our lecturer to arrange a special “show and tell” evening in the course, so everyone could share a little about their work. But I know the internal auditor guy in the grey suit would have totally hogged the limelight. He really loved his job.

Sunshine signing off for today!


32 thoughts on “Tall, dark and interesting

  1. I had to laugh at you being the only one able to cast your mind back to ’78! I would have been there with you, thinking about my early college days.
    Unrelated except by age-difference funniness, it reminds me of a chat with a coworker at a former job. He was about 20 and I was early 40s. He was telling us about his new CD – a collaboration between Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach. He told us how great the music was and he was feeling sad for poor Burt Bacharach, that it was a shame that no one had really heard of such a talented guy. A couple of us old fogies swiveled around and assured him that he shouldn’t waste any tears on Burt’s unappreciated talents.

  2. I went back to school as an adult when my son was young, so I can totally appreciate this post, Sunshine! It’s amazing how our frame of reference centers around where we’ve been and who we are; no wonder the generations often face blank stares when they try to communicate. Loved how the “gorgeous” guy fooled you all — I imagine most saw him as an actor or a model, rather than a stripper.

    1. I’m glad you can relate, Debbie – such an interesting experience, isn’t it? I work with loads of young people and the other day someone asked me what kind of music I like, and my answers met with blank stares, just as you describe! Van Morrison? Who?

  3. Great story. I have, once or twice, been in a conversation with someone younger, and will mention something from back in the olden days, and the lovely young person will just look at me, and mention that it was before they were born. At least I’ve been able to make the switch from “albums” to cds.
    A stripper, huh? Very interesting!!

  4. I used to work in a call center where most of my co-workers were half my age…I was kind of like a “surrogate mom” a lot of the time…

    A male stripper? Reminds me of the time a bunch of my college girlfriends and I went to the Chippendales show (male strippers)…I think we spent the entire show laughing! It wasn’t sexy at all…


    1. Thanks so much, kim. And it’s true – my assumptions about the true content are usually wrong. They certainly were this time. And you’re right – the possibilities are very exciting.

  5. Loved the story Sunshine. One of my favorite things to do when eating out is to imagine a story that goes with the other diners. Where they are from, where they are going, what do they do, are they married and for how long???etc.

    I went to a Chippendale show when I was in college with friends…not impressed and mostly laughed out of embarrassment.

  6. What a hoot, Sunshine! But did you ever find out anything more about the male stripper? Hopefully the interesting office cleaner is wearing more than “earphones.” LOL

  7. hahahaha! that is so funny! i can just imagine your friend in front of me, turning around to spill all. i had a friend like that at university 😉

    i currently stay in cape town and just started a blog, it’ll be about observatory, the suburb i moved to recently. maybe you’ll like to revisit your old town sometime 😉


    1. Thanks for coming by, and for commenting! Glad you can relate to my friend – it was very funny!
      I know Observatory well – and we are going to be revisiting our home town very soon – can’t wait!
      I look forward to checking out your blog. Groete to you too.

  8. Sunshine, you never, ever fail to entertain – brilliant story.
    And now: have you enquired as to the office cleaner’s day job? I am on the edge of my seat to find out…

  9. I love the ‘cast your mind back to 1978!’ That was the year I moved to London. Later, as I approached thirty, I went back to school when I was pregnant with my daughter; I remember sitting in the classroom feeling baby kicks, while being surrounded by eighteen-year olds.
    Great story!

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you could relate … isn’t it a funny thing, studying alongside people who are just students when you have a family?
      Thanks so much for coming by.

  10. I really enjoyed reading this post. I too can relate to this story-as this granny can see the humor in having these similar conversations with younger men-it sure makes for sharing laughs and great conversation.
    Male stripper ! ummmm ! Chippendales are sure good on the eyes !! and adds some humor for our fantasy imagination !!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s